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SEPTEMBER 15, 2004


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS
Small Town Football At Its Best
Success Pitted Against Success When Commerce Faces Lincoln Co.
College football paired its two winningest programs against each other this past weekend when Michigan squared off against Notre Dame.

Will this be the week?
Two teams with losing streaks set to meet Friday
When Jackson County travels to Eastside this Friday night someone's losing streak is going to end. The Eagles (0-3 overall, 0-2 Region 8-AAAA) are in the midst of an eight-game skid that dates back to last year. Jackson County's 28-game losing mark, the longest in the state, has come close to ending this season but to no avail.

Jefferson boys post team record time
The Jefferson cross country team competed in a 24-team field comprised of mostly Class AA and AAA schools at the first annual War Eagle 5-K at Chestatee High School this past Tuesday. Jefferson was the lone class A school in the meet.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
BOC approves zoning for 120-lot subdivision
Countians filled the courthouse Tuesday night for the Banks County Board of Commissioners meeting to hear the outcome of a rezoning request that left the planning commission without a recommendation last week.

Student enrollment up seven percent
With the first month of school completed, student enrollment is up almost seven percent at Banks County schools.
The increased student population was discussed at the board of education meeting Monday night.


News from
MADISON
COUNTY
Eyes on Ivan
Storm headed west of us, but rain expected
Early predictions had northeast Georgia in the direct path of Hurricane Ivan, but the worst weather appears to be headed west.
Nevertheless, all eyes are still on Ivan this week as New Orleans prepares for the brunt of the blast, with people fleeing in droves, fearing monstrous winds and catastrophic flooding.

What’s in the numbers?
Budget talks begin amid many uncertainties
Will county use 2003 or 2004 digest?
With the county’s total land value — its tax digest — still undetermined for 2004, county commissioners will begin talking about the 2005 budget Tuesday night.

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JHS Homecoming

ADAMS NAMED HOMECOMING QUEEN

Jefferson High School senior Mika Lana Adams was crowned homecoming queen Friday night at the JHS football game. She is shown being escorted by Willie Hughey during the halftime festivities.


$70 million school bond vote ahead Tues.
Advance voting is under way this week
Some Jackson County voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of a $70 million school bond referendum.
Voters living in the Jackson County School System district, which excludes the City of Jefferson and City of Commerce voters, will vote on plans that include renovations at several existing schools, land for future growth and a new county high school in East Jackson.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Advance voting is under way this week at the registrar’s office in the old courthouse in Jefferson. Ballots may be cast from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday. At press time Wednesday, only 31 people had voted.
School leaders anticipate the bonds can be paid with an additional 2.9 mills based on the existing tax digest. As growth adds to the digest in the coming years, that millage rate may be lowered.
NEW HIGH SCHOOL
Top on the priority list is a new high school in the East Jackson area, near East Jackson Middle School and East Jackson Elementary School.
Superintendent Andy Byers said the situation is critical at Jackson County Comprehensive High School in Jefferson, which was built to accommodate 1,250 students. There are more than 1,621 students enrolled at the school this year and the numbers are expected to continue to increase rapidly.
Byers is set to get started on the construction of the new high school in the East Jackson area the day after the bond vote is held. He said it would take two to three months to get the soil and other environmental permits needed and one year to get a sewer permit.
The Gordon Street Center in Jefferson is already being used by the high school to handle the overflow and it is also filled to capacity, Byers said. Mobile units are also in place at the high school.
If the bond doesn’t pass, Byers said the system will have to consider “double sessions” at the high school, which will mean splitting the day up and having some students attend a morning session, while others attend an afternoon session. More mobile units will still be needed at the high school and at other county schools as the student population continues to grow at the county elementary and middle schools.
MIDDLE SCHOOL
In addition to the new high school, another priority will be a middle school in South Jackson. Other projects to be funded with the bonds include: Classrooms, offices and bus loading area added to Maysville Elementary; classrooms added to South Jackson Elementary; classrooms added to North Jackson Elementary or a new school in the North Jackson area; offices and bus loading area at West Jackson Primary; possible new elementary school in West Jackson; and land acquisition for future school sites.
This is the largest bond referendum in the county’s history and the first one for the county school system since 1994, a decade ago.

Commissioners to set millage rate Sept. 24
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will set the millage rate at a called meeting at 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 24, in the Jury Assembly Room at the new courthouse at 5000 Jackson Parkway, Jefferson.
The BOC is not proposing a millage rate increase.


Arcade to purchase land for new city hall
Police department will be in refurbished existing building
It’s been over a year in the works, but the Arcade City Council should finalize a land purchase in the coming week that will allow the city to build a new city hall on the lot adjacent to the current building.
With one tract offered at $38,000 and another donated to the city, Arcade will have room to grow, with a new city hall building in the early planning stages and with an expanded and renovated existing building to house the police department.
In June of 2003, council members began eyeing the 1.64-acre lot adjacent to the current city hall as a possibility for expansion room. Members began talk of negotiations with property owner Jane Segars at that time. Mrs. Segars also holds the deed to the 1.39-acre lot which is leased to the city for $1 a year under a 99-year contract established in 1967 by Mrs. Segars’ late husband, Charles Segars, and on which the existing city hall and police department are located.
Since that time, the council has periodically broached the topic of expansion, not only for city hall, adminstrative staff and court purposes, but also for the police department, which has been outgrowing its office and storage space.
At Monday night’s meeting, council member Ron Smith announced that the city is in the process of acquiring both tracts from Mrs. Segars and hopes to have a closing on the matter within the week.
“In conjunction with that, we have interviewed two architects for re-doing this building and for another building,” Mayor Doug Haynie said.
City administrator Barbara Kesler told the council that she has received proposals from two architectural firms and is awaiting a visit from a third. She and police chief Dennis Bell have met with a representative from two firms to discuss their needs and budget allowances. Kesler added that the city should be able to finance the building project, when the time comes, through the Georgia Municipal Association “with no problem.”
The council agreed to wait until its October meeting to fully discuss and make a decision on an architectural firm to draw up a plan and a cost estimate for the new city hall and a renovated police department.
Kesler pointed out that suggestions on the work included housing the police department in the remodeled existing building and building city hall on the adjacent lot so police officers wouldn’t have to cross city hall traffic and parking to get to the main road.
“We don’t want to build something we’ll outgrow in five years,” she said. “We want buildings that we can use for other functions as we grow, and that will allow for expansion, if need be.”
Kesler also mentioned the possibility of including a basement in the new building for file storage and for use as a storm shelter for area residents.
“To get to the next level, we will need to retain an architect to see what’s available and what will meet our needs,” Haynie said.
Smith added: “I propose we address this next month, with or without the third firm. We’re beyond the maybes. We need to make the first financial step.”
The Arcade City Council has rescheduled its October meeting to 7 p.m. Monday, October 18.


Spring End of Course Tests results are given
The Jackson County and Jefferson City school systems, along with the rest of the school systems in Georgia, have received End of Course Test results for semester-end assessments given last spring in eight subject areas. Both Jackson County Comprehensive High School and Jefferson High School report higher percentages than the state average in all but one category .
The End of Course tests have been mandated under the A+ Educational Reform Act of 2000 for core high school classes, with tests based on Quality Core Curriculum (QCC) standards. The eight subject areas tested are ninth and 11th grade English, biology, physical science, economics, U.S. history, algebra I and geometry.
“It’s an end of course test to see if the student mastered the objectives,” said Dr. Jane Scales, JCCHS assistant principal for instruction. “Anyone taking classes in the eight subject areas takes the test.”
“We had good results,” Scales added of last year’s JCCHS scores.
JCCHS exceeded state averages in all categories except for ninth grade English literature/composition, which had the same score as the state at 77 percent. JCCHS students scored particularly high in 11th grade English, with 96 percent meeting or exceeding state standards, and in geometry, with 91 percent.
JHS also exceedded state averages in all subjects, except for 11th grade English, which had 71 percent meet or exceed expectations, compared to the state’s 89 percent. JHS students scored particularly high in physical science, with 95 percent exceeding or meeting state standards.
2004-2005 TESTS ARE PART OF GRADE
While last year’s tests were a sort of pilot program, this year’s tests will “count,” said Scales.
Students in grades nine through 12 will take End of Course Tests in December and again in May for the 2004-2005 school year, with tests given in two 45 to 60-minute sections. A summer test will also be offered. The test results will count toward 15 percent of a student’s total grade for the course in question.
“This year the EOCT must count as part of the students final grade — 15 percent for all tested courses except for geometry,” said Dr. Sherrie Gibney-Sherman, associate superintendent for instruction for Jefferson schools. “Geometry has to be restandardized due to calculator use. Those grade will count in 2005-2006.”
The End of Course Test is broken down into “does not meet,” “meets” and “exceeds expectations.”
The idea is for course results to serve as diagnostic tools, with teachers and administrators being able to look more closely at individual courses and instructional programs.
“We have the high school graduation test, but this gets more specific,” Scales explained. “I think overall it’s a good thing. They are tested on what they covered in a semester...We can see how many questions were missed in what area and can look at the curriculum for those strands.”
More information on Georgia’s testing programs is available at www.doe.k12.ga.us.


Cities to pay for courthouse use
Jefferson leaders recently learned that the use of the new courthouse for it’s city court will come with a steep price tag.
Jefferson had been using the State Courtroom in the Administration Building in Jefferson to hold its monthly city court. That space is being renovated for use by the planning department since the State Court has been moved to the new courthouse.
Jefferson has been offered the use of the new courthouse, but it will have to foot the bill for four deputies to provide security at the facility. Jefferson leaders said they estimated that this will cost $6,000 for six months. After six months, the city’s civic center renovation will be complete and that facility can be used for municipal court.
The council discussed several options at a work session Monday night for holding its court over the next six months, but took no action. The options discussed included holding court in the city clubhouse and holding it the same night as Commerce in the new courthouse and sharing the bill.


Stormy weather to hit Thursday
Hurricane Ivan to send high winds, heavy rain this way at week’s end
Hurricane Ivan is expected to bring heavy rains and high winds to the Northeast Georgia area this week.
Winds 30 to 40 miles per hour and three to six inches of rain are expected to hit the area Thursday, with the rain continuing through the weekend, according to Atlanta forecasters (see page 9A of this weeks Jackson Herald for safety tips).
Thousands of people in Alabama, Louisiana and Florida were evacuated earlier this week due to reports that the storm would hit land by the middle to end of this week.


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White To Return
School Superintendent
Rescinds Resignation,
Gets 3-Year Contract
Larry White’s retirement is now on hold for at least three years.
But the terms of his continuation as Commerce school superintendent didn’t come without objections from school board Chairman Steve Perry.
In a rare 3-1 split vote, the Commerce Board of Education rescinded White’s March resignation from his position which was to be effective in June 2005 and extended his contract until June 2008. White has been the superintendent since 1997.
Reading from a letter he wrote to the BOE, White said his “initial intent to retire was made prematurely and without thought (as to) what is most important to me.”
“I realize the fact that I love my job here and want to continue working with you in providing the best possible learning environment for the children of our community,” said White, adding that he’ll move from Oconee County into the Commerce school district at the beginning of next school year.
The lone board member in opposition was Perry, who disagreed with White’s new salary figures and stressed that he felt the proper steps to reinstate White had not been taken.
“I will say that I have the most respect for Mr. Larry White. I would love to see him here for three more years but I’m not going to be rushed into a contract that I received on my steps on Monday,” Perry said. “And I don’t agree with the dollar values or the way the contract is written.”
Copies of White’s contract extension were delivered to BOE members’ homes Monday, four days after an hour and 37 minute closed session at this past Thursday night’s work session which was conducted for the majority of the time without White.
Under the extension, White’s salary will jump from $123,698 this year (that total includes $6,157 compensation for 20 days of unused vacation) to $125,000 in 2005-2006, $130,000 for 2006-2007 and $135,000 in 2007-2008. Those figures include all benefit packages to the superintendent. The job’s annual salary had been advertised between $115,000 and $135,000 during the BOE’s recent search for a new superintendent.
Perry questioned the increases which would bring payment to White to a combined $380,000 over the next three years.
“I suspect the teachers would like to get the same increase but I guess that’s just not part of the make up,” the chairman said.
None of the BOE members objected to the raise while school board vice-chairman Arthur Lee Pattman was White’s most vocal supporter when Perry asked the board if it was comfortable with the salary jump.
“They (the salary figures) don’t look that outrageous to me,” Pattman said. “For the service we get from this man, I don’t think there’s a thing wrong with it.”
The school board member Mary Seabolt was not present to vote on the matter Monday due to illness.
Perry asked the board at the beginning of the meeting for a motion to table action on White’s contract until Seabolt could be present to discuss and vote on the matter. The chairman said he asked to postpone the item at Seabolt’s request.
No one made a motion and the item stayed on the agenda.
When the board started discussion of White’s contract extension, Perry questioned whether board members had read the original contract or the amendment. White left the meeting and retrieved copies of both for Perry and the other members when some said they hadn’t read them.
Perry proceeded to read aloud White’s original contract, his 2002 extension and the proposed extension to 2008 before stating his objections. Shortly after, he called for a vote.
“Congratulations Mr. White,” Perry said after the vote passed. “We’ll have you for three more years.”